The first trailer for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword has hit the internet, and it teases just how Guy Ritchie will put his spin on the classic Arthurian legends, scuff them up for modern audiences, and set their stories to Led Zeppelin.
Ritchie’s King Arthur — planned to be an epic six-movie franchise — already looks to be an enormous, swashbuckling adventure. It stars the eternally gritty Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy, Pacific Rim) as Arthur Pendragon and a self-righteous Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes, The Young Pope) as his usurping uncle, Vortigern.
The official synopsis for Ritchie’s King Arthur was revealed alongside the trailer:
When the child Arthur’s father is murdered, Vortigern (Jude Law), Arthur’s uncle, seizes the crown. Robbed of his birthright and with no idea who he truly is, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, his life is turned upside down and he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy…whether he likes it or not.
Alongside Hunnam and Law will be Astrid Bergès-Frisbey (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) as the mysterious Mage — who looks to be a magic-wielder or some sort of prophet — and Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou as Bedivere. In the classic legends, Sir Bedivere is one of the first knights of the Round Table, a trusted friend and ally of Arthur’s, and the person to return Excalibur — Arthur’s legendary sword — to the Lady of the Lake. It looks as if Bedivere will be fittingly vital in helping Arthur achieve his destiny in King Arthur.
The trailer features a muted color palette, sweeping views of the English countryside, implications of magic, enormous, fiery battles, talk of a prophecy, and a very angry, sanctimonious occupying king in the form of Law’s Vortigern. And, of course, you can’t forget Excalibur, the sword in the stone that reveals Arthur to be the one, true king of Camelot.
Arthur’s father and Vortigern’s brother, King Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana), starts the plot when he awakens his wife in the middle of the night and has her take Arthur away for one reason or another. Presumably, it’s because Vortigern has plotted against Uther. The trailer’s editing — which turns the tale into a flashing panorama of action shots with little to no context — makes it seem like Arthur’s mother is killed in the process.
Years later, Vortigern is king. He’s power hungry and loves to flaunt his title in front of thousands. “As your power increases, so too do the forces that would oppose you,” Vortigern is warned by a whispering voice. Maybe it’s the Lady of the Lake. “The born king will come. It is inevitable.”
Meanwhile, a street-wise, quietly intense Arthur accidentally discovers his destiny after pulling Excalibur from the stone. Vortigern grows wary of Arthur and his rightful claim to the throne, and the two forces seem destined to collide in an epic battle involving armies, magic, prophecy, and a whole lot of explosions. Arthur will, undoubtedly, come out on top with the help of Bedivere, who promises Arthur he’ll “soon understand what all the fuss is about.”
There’s no word on whether or not the legendary wizard Merlin will make an appearance.
Ritchie’s recent films haven’t been short on explosions or style — look at Sherlock Holmes or The Man From U.N.C.L.E. — but we hope King Arthur retains the elements that make his early movies — Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch — so damn satisfying.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword premieres in theaters May 12.